Cleveland's Auburn Records is making the most of heavy metal's renaissance, with five albums from '80s metal giants planned for release in 2004, Auburn's 20th anniversary.
"We operate like a big family," says label president Bill Peters, a marketing rep for Warner Bros. Records and host of WJCU's Metal on Metal radio show since 1981. "We're doing it for fun. It was a struggle, but we knew we were doing some good stuff. A lot of the records I've released have become collector's items and developed cult followings."
In 1998, Auburn's marquee heshers, Breaker, reunited to tap the loyal European followings that many metal bands command. Electrifying Shok Paris also recently reunited to play the European festival circuit; the band's biggest LPs, 1984's Go for the Throat and 1987's Steel and Starlight, will be reissued in the spring.
Breaker's memorable Coffee Breaker Concert will be released as an album in early January. The live LP was recorded at the Agora in 1983 for WMMS's Coffee Break Concert Series, a prestigious showcase that was generally reserved for national acts. (Cleveland artist Derek Hess will provide cover art.)
Other Auburn releases include a February album by trad metallers Wretch, which recorded demos in the '80s, but never made an album of its Accept-meets-Iron Maiden sound. Speed demons Destructor are working on an LP of all-new material, which will include a reworked version of "Smash Your Skulls With Power."
"Metal's always been there," Peters says. "It's a huge underground scene, and our European crowd are very loyal. We know what we're doing and the market we appeal to."
· Throwback rockers Cobra Verde continue to kick it with underground royalty. After teaming with Dinosaur Jr. guitarist J. Mascis for several live shows earlier this year, the snakemen recruited Minutemen/Firehose bassist Mike Watt to star in their new video for "Riot Industry." George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) and Blaxploitation icon Rudy Ray Moore also appear. "These Cobra Verde dudes are badass," says Moore. "If they weren't white, I could even see 'em pimpin' around in one of my Dolemite movies."
· Resurrected Cleveland punk forerunners Rocket From the Tombs will release their first true album, Rocket Redux, on February 24. The release, made up of the band's classic tracks from the mid-'70s, was recorded over the summer.
· Ripper Watch: The Glorious Burden, Iced Earth's ninth album and first with former Judas Priest frontman/ Akron native Tim "Ripper" Owens, is set for a January 13 release. In the meantime, fans can download the stark video for "When the Eagle Cries," from the new EP "The Reckoning (Don't Tread on Me)," from http://launch.yahoo.com. The unplugged song (a full-band version will appear on the LP) sounds like White Lion's "When the Children Cry," rewritten as a 9-11 tribute, and concludes with a Halfordian hellion shriek from Owens.
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